Local governments and policies hold an important role in stimulating the growth of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations. By improving local solar permitting processes, city governments can potentially reduce the “soft” costs of solar PV installations and facilitate the deployment of solar PV systems at the local level. Drawing data from California's annual statewide planning surveys, this paper examines the determinants for the adoption of solar approval processes and the policy impact on residential solar PV installations in California cities. The results demonstrate that cities with large population size, municipal utilities, and high proportions of pro-environment, educated constituents are more likely to adopt solar approval processes. Additionally, the presence of local solar approval processes is found to increase both total capacity and the number of small-scale residential solar PV installations in a city, holding all else equal. The empirical evidence presented in this research confirms the important role of local governments in the deployment of solar PV systems.